Smart Meters Explained

Back in 2016, the leading UK energy suppliers began their task to roll out smart meters. The plan was to install a smart meter in every home in the UK by the year 2020. Unfortunately that target wasn’t met, so it has been extended to 2025. Up until 2018, energy suppliers installed more than 8.5 million first generation smart meters (also known as SMETS1 smart meters).

In 2018 the energy companies switched to issuing SMETS2 smart meters, which are the second generation of smart meter. As of March 2019, this is the only type of smart meter that is allowed to be installed. So far, more than 21 million have been installed throughout the UK. And millions of these homes already have smart thermostats. It’s all part of technology moving forwards to make our homes smarter than ever before.

What are SMETS1 and SMETS2 Smart Meters?

SMETS stands for Smart Meter Technical Specifications. SMETS1 smart meters were the first generation of smart meters, and SMETS2 are the latest generation. In terms of technology, SMETS1 smart meters are somewhat limited. This is because they rely on the largely outdated 3G network. Not only that, but the first generation of smart readers can only send automatic meter readings to the original energy supplier who installed the smart meter. As you can imagine, this isn’t very useful nowadays. The reason being that it’s easy to change your energy supplier at the click of a button.

SMETS2 smart meters are more intelligent than SMETS1 smart meters. They send their data via an encrypted network that is not connected to the internet. This network is called the Wide Area Network  – or WAN for short. This enables second generation smart meters to connect directly with a central data collection company. The data collection company (DCC) was set up by the government. The data sent via the WAN is encrypted so the central data collection company is unable to see it. All they do is pass the information to your current energy supplier. If you do switch energy provider at any time, then it’s easy for the DCC to share data with your new supplier. This isvery useful. When you have a smart meter installed you’ll never have to send manual meter readings – regardless of whether or not you have switched energy supplier.

What if I have a SMETS1 Smart Meter?

Over the course of the next few years, all SMETS1 smart meters are being replaced. They will be updated to second generations SMETS2 smart meters. This is part of the smart meter roll out that aims to have a smart meter roll out in every home by 2025.

What are the Main Benefits of Smart Meters?

Once you have a smart meter connected to your home internet, it will automatically submit electricity readings to your energy provider. This means that you won’t have to. There are two main benefits to this.

  1. Your supplier will get ore accurate meter readings when they request them. As a customer this means you will get more accurate bills.
  2. You as a customer will be able to manage your energy costs more easily. So estimated energy bills will soon be a thing of the past. You will also be able to see exactly how much energy you are using at any given time.

Smart meters are also useful for businesses. If a business has a smart meter installed then they will be able to see their electricity consumption. This means that business owners will be able to identify spikes or drops in energy usage. This could help them to identify problems with their equipment in a timely manner.

The SMETS2 smart meter rollout means that different energy suppliers can access your usage data easily. The only condition is that the data collection company have your permission to share it. This means that it’s a lot easier and more cost-efficient to switch energy provider. The fact that your meter readings are constantly being sent to the energy suppliers you’ve chosen means that you will be billed for your exact usage. Unlike the old days. You used to receive an estimated bill from at least one of the suppliers during a switch.

How much does it cost to get a Smart Meter installed?

The great thing about smart meters is the fact that they are completely free. This is one of the major incentives to try and get everyone to switch to smart meters so that there’s one in every household by 2025. Just like with a traditional non-smart meter, the equipment does cost money to supply and install. However this is already factored into your bill and the costs usually form part of the standing charge for most energy bills.

It will take around an hour to install a smart meter in your home. To do so, the engineer will need to switch off your home’s electricity for between 30 to 45 minutes. Someone will need to be home while the smart meter is being installed, but that’s all there is to it. After your SMETS2 smart meter has been installed you can enjoy more accurate bills and better control over your energy usage for life.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it Cost to have a Smart Meter Installed?

Nothing at all. The supply and fitting of a smart meter in the UK is currently free. This is to incentivise everyone to get one, so by 20125 all homes in the UK have smart meters.

Can I install a smart meter myself?

Although it is possible to install a smart meter yourself if you are qualified, it makes more sense to have an engineer come and do it seeing as it’s completely free.

Is my Data Safe with a Smart Meter

Yes, it is. All data is encrypted and sent via a Wide Area Network that is not part of the internet. It is then handled by a data collection company before being submitted to the relevent energy suppliers.

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